Artist Statement: “My name is Robert Whitehair Begay, I am currently 18 years old. I am from Gallup, New Mexico, and I recently graduated high school in 2021. I am a tufa cast artist who learned to make tufa cast jewelry mainly from my father, Darryl Dean Begay. My mother, Rebecca T. Begay, is also a jeweler and an artist. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and I started craving tufa at age 4 years old—even at that age, it was fun and exciting to make art pieces and go to shows with my parents and my 2 older brothers. In 2009, my parents won the Best of Show at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, and that was also the year I entered for the first time. I was 6 years old and won a first place ribbon for a silver tufa cast seed pot, and also won a third place ribbon for a painting. That is something I’ll always remember.” More recently, in August 2019, I won Best of Youth at both the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Market for a bracelet called, “Cheii’s Land,” and also won an award at SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market for a bolo tie called, “Cheii Whitehair.”
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